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Spotlight on: Cydney Ross, T'12

September 28, 2017 | By Ekim Buyuk and Shruti Rao

Cydney is a Sr. Product Marketing Specialist at Vistaprint where she is responsible for the consumer product portfolio in North America. She received her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees at Duke University and the Fuqua School of Business at Duke. Prior to beginning her career in product marketing and product management, she spent 2 years as a professional track athlete traveling around the US and competing against some of the best 800m runners in the world. Cydney has interned at Nike and TomTom and prior to joining Vistaprint she was the Product Marketing Manager for the sport product portfolio in North America at TomTom.

Cydney Ross

Thinking back, what led you to join BOW?

I was interested in working in business after graduation and I was searching for groups for undergraduates to join to help guide me to that career path. After attending an all girls high school, I’ve always felt the energy and power that can be found in a group of driven women is unmatched and I resolved to put myself in groups that create and uphold that energy.

What was your favorite part of Duke University?

As a member of the Duke Track team, I loved wearing Duke proudly on my chest and having the opportunity to represent Duke at competitions.

Could you talk a little bit about your experiences as a professional track athlete?

Pursuing a career as a professional track athlete was a very humbling experience. After graduating from the Fuqua School of Business Masters of Management studies program, I decided to pause my full-time career and follow a big dream and a big goal. I first had to figure out what it meant to be a professional track athlete, but I eventually joined the New Jersey New York Track Club and then the Boston Athletic Association team where I competed as an 800m athlete. I traveled around the US competing at high profile meets (like the US National Championship), received gear from Nike and Adidas, made appearances on behalf of the teams, and was even in a Nike photo shoot! But it was not all glitter and gold; I spent about 30 hours a week at practice, 10 hours a week at home stretching and in physical therapy, I never really got to see my friends because I was physically and emotionally exhausted, and I had to balance a part-time job to supplement my income. It was grueling and I never quite had the same success as I did in college, but I learned a lot about what motivates me, how to persevere, and making changes to put my happiness first.

What skills from being a professional track athlete have helped you in your business career?

Wow, there are so many! If I had to pick a few, I would say continuing to educate myself on best practices and new ideas in my work and craft, holding myself and my teammates to a high standard, making space and time for multiple interests in life, recognizing my teammates and collaborators for their successes and hard work, holding myself to a high standard, and probably the most cliché but definitely time management.

What is your favorite part of living in Boston?

I LOVE that Boston is close to the beach and the mountains! I’ve taken advantage of all the beach days on the weekends and this winter I’m hoping to learn to downhill ski! I also enjoy living in a city chock full of colleges and universities—there is always a play, concert, talk, or museum to see.

What advice do you have for maintaining your passions after graduation?

I think the word passion is very intimidating and I believe we first need to take a step back and understand how you find a passion. Passions don’t happen overnight and it often starts as an interest. I think the best way to find a passion is to begin with fostering your interests. What do you want to learn about? What do you find interesting at work? What kinds of articles do you find yourself reading at work? I’ve always had running but sometimes I’m not passionate about it! I think what’s been my saving grace has been finding interests and letting my brain go crazy with those fringe ideas I have. For instance, I really like coding and I put myself through Code Academy just to learn more!

What advice do you have for current Duke students trying to navigate their job search in marketing?

Refine your craft and learn about all aspects of marketing. Broadcast and social are one piece, but marketing is multilayered and complex. Learn what you can online, but set up as many informational interviews, phone calls, send emails to really dive deep as to what it means to be a marketing in a specific role. I’m always available for call!